Lorraine: How Do you deal with, cope with, manage, and compartmentalize an injury or trauma that’s been done to you, especially when the person who hurt you walks away Scott free?
Jesus: Sometimes in life, people will hurt you. And they may not do so intentionally. But the hurt they cause can still result in emotional and/or physical injury. This type of injury is a result of an accident or carelessness in one’s thinking or actions. Then there are people who will hurt you deliberately. This type of trauma or injury is a result of violence. It may be premeditated or on the spur of the moment, but violence is a deliberate attempt to hurt, maim, or alter the course of someone’s life. Since the two types of injuries are different, I will discuss them separately.
When someone does something that harms you, maims you, or alters the course of your life, and it was done unintentionally, there’s a very important tool that you can use to help you cope, manage, and move beyond the harm that was done to you. It’s called forgiveness. When the person that hurt you takes responsibility for the hurt they’ve caused, and tries to do the right thing, forgiving them is much easier. But this may not always be the case. The person that hurt you may not care, may not take any responsibility for their actions, or may not even be aware of the hurt they’ve caused. For most, it would be harder to forgive an unremorseful person. But it is exactly what you need to do.
It is the person who was hurt – the unintentional victim – that must live with the consequences of the injury, whatever injury that may be. They are the ones that must endure the pain. Without forgiveness, it is harder for the injured person to move on with their lives. Not forgiving the person that hurt you keeps you in the moment of the injury. It immobilizes you. It disables you. By not forgiving the person that hurt you, you’re not allowing yourself to work through the negative emotions caused by the injury, which is necessary to get back to good mental health. Instead, it leads to anger, resentment, and frustration, unhealthy emotions that can have ill-effects on the mind and body over time.
Forgiveness allows you, the person who was hurt, to heal. It doesn’t do anything for the person who hurt you, unless they ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t matter whether the person who hurt you takes responsibility for their actions or not. It’s good when they do, of course, especially if they do so through compensation. Money does help the healing process, i.e. paying doctors bills, physical therapists, counselors, etc. But it doesn’t heal or change either person. Only forgiveness can do that. When you forgive, you heal. When you heal, you move on. When you move on, you move away from the bad thing that happened to you. When you move away from the bad things that happen to you in life, you grow as a person. You mature. You become healthy, mentally and physically. So, when something has been done to you that is beyond your control, that leaves you hurt, maimed, or altered in some way – particularly if it was done unintentionally – forgive. And allow that forgiveness to heal you. Forgiveness takes work – it doesn’t always come easily. But even the worst injuries in life can be healed through forgiveness.
Now let’s talk about acts of violence. An act of violence is a deliberate attempt to hurt, maim, or kill the perpetrator’s victim. It is important to the person who was injured, and to society, that the offender be caught and stopped so they do not harm anyone else. How the offender is stopped depends greatly on society’s norms and morals on crime, and it varies throughout the world. But when someone intentionally hurts you for the benefit of themselves, or for no apparent reason, it is reasonable to seek justice. That justice may take on many forms, such as helping the police, or cooperating with them, to catch the perpetrator. It may mean testifying against them in court or suing them. And it may mean something entirely different in another country or in other cultures. But when all is said and done, whether the perpetrator is stopped or not, the healing process is the sole responsibility of the victim.
Part of the healing process is rationalizing the violent act. Compartmentalizing it. Finding a way to cope with what has been done. Moving on isn’t easy. Before the victim can get to the point of forgiveness, they must go through the grieving process. Their life has been altered deliberately. They are different. They have emotional scars, and possibly physical scars as well. Their life may be very different physically for a long time, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. They must accept what has happened to them – and this can be very challenging to a crime victim. But once acceptance has been achieved, forgiveness becomes the next hurdle. But it is possible – people do it all the time. It is just as important that the crime victim forgive their perpetrator as it is for the person who was injured accidentally. A crime victim can feel victimized for a very long time. Working through their emotions and reaching the point of forgiveness allows them to heal emotionally and move past their anger and fear. It allows them to move beyond the violence and get on with their lives.
Here’s an interesting fact. The person that hurt you, unintentionally or deliberately, will never feel what you feel. Their hurtful act is much shorter lived in their memories than yours. Whether they are sorry or not, even if they pay reparations, they will soon forget and move on with their lives. This becomes particularly easy for them if they have no further involvement in your life. But even the perpetrator who goes to jail may only have remorse for the fact that they got caught. The harm they did to you may be completely forgotten or dismissed. And this is why forgiveness is so important. It doesn’t benefit the person that harmed you. It benefits YOU!
Forgiveness is the key to healing. Remember that. It is important. It will serve you well in life. Many things will be done to you. Deliberately and unintentionally. Forgiveness allows you to move beyond the hurt, the pain, the injury, the changes in life that may occur as a result of what’s been done to you.
Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things to do in life. It requires love, compassion, understanding, maturity, and a desire to heal. Ask for help if you need it, particularly in the case of violence – it is important to seek the help of a therapist or counselor who can help you through the healing process. You can ask God for help, too.
Remember, forgiveness takes work, dedication, and perseverance. But you can do it. I know you can – you can do anything you put your mind to. You are unstoppable. It’s called the human spirit. Don’t let anyone take your power away from you. Rise above and carry on. I believe in you.
Lorraine: Jesus wait. Please don’t end the dialogue here. I need to know what happens when it’s a child that’s been hurt – particularly when they’ve been hurt by a friend or someone they know. How can they get to the point of forgiveness when they don’t even understand their feelings of betrayal?
Jesus: It’s the same process. A child can forgive anyone of anything, just as an adult can. The process isn’t any harder for them. In fact, it may be easier.
Lorraine: How is it easier?
Jesus: I said it may be easier. Every child is different and processes things differently – just as adults do. But children don’t have the same burdens that adults have. They don’t generally stay angry for very long. Their natural tendency is to forgive and to love. They have the ability to move on much quicker than adults. But this changes as they get older. In the case of someone who has been victimized or bullied over a long period of time, that child may wind up being a very angry teenager.
Depending on what the hurtful act was, the friendship may end. Schoolmates may need to be separated. But once a child’s environment returns to normal, they have an enormous capacity to put the incident and injury behind them and move on. They may not consciously forgive the person that hurt them, but when they no longer talk about it, or think about it, and especially when they no longer remember it, they have forgiven.
Lorraine: If the hurtful act resulted in a physical injury, and the healing process takes a long time, doesn’t it become harder for the child to forgive?
Jesus: That depends greatly on the age of the child, their parenting, and the attitude of the child. If they are taught to be forgiving, they will forgive more quickly than the child that was taught to seek revenge. But they have the same capacity to forgive as anyone else. Again, once they return to a normal setting – in this case, the injury has healed – that child has the same ability to move on and put the incident behind them, as any other child.
Lorraine: Thank you.
Jesus: You’re welcome. Next time let’s talk about how to forgive. How do you forgive someone if you don’t know how? But for now, this is a lot to digest.
Be well my friends.